Event: “Krishnan’s Dairy” co-presented by Indian Ink Theatre Company and the SRT
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Run: 21st – 31st Mar 2012
Brimful Of Jacob Rajan
“Krishnan’s Dairy” (not “diary”) was the first play staged by New Zealand theatre company Indian Ink Theatre Company, and premiered in 1997.
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of catching two of their other productions at the SRT, namely “The Pickle King” in 2007 and “The Guru of Chai” in 2011, and I’ve found their shows to be of excellent quality, thanks in no small part to the immense talent of one man – Jacob Rajan.
“Krishnan’s Dairy” was no different.
The term “dairy” here refers to what we’d probably call a convenience store or a corner shop.
The play centres around Gobi and Zina Krishnan, an immigrant couple from India, and how they attempt to courageously adapt to life in New Zealand while running a humble dairy.
In the course of the play we witness the many challenges a dairy owner would typically face – some more life-threatening than others – and we see how Gobi’s wife Zina struggles with her predicament of having to raise a newborn in a foreign land in which she is not completely comfortable with, and constantly makes known to Gobi her yearning to be back in India.
Gobi, on the other hand, is the more optimistic and adaptable one, and puts on a brave front as he tries to make the best of his new start here in New Zealand.
As the story unfolds, we learn more about this quirky but charming relationship between husband and wife, and this is paralleled with the epic story of Shah Jahan and the Taj Mahal.
Through the use of masks, Jacob Rajan deftly switches between roles with consummate ease.
You could have sworn there were actually two actors on stage playing Gobi and Zina.
The beauty of Rajan’s works lies in its delicate simplicity.
He wrings out pure magic from the simplest of props and barest of sets.
As with “The Guru of Chai”, it is amazing how he is able to create so much from so little.
It is this economy with props which makes his work so charming.
Plus the fact that he always incorporates so many clever little ideas in his plays, such as the authentic sound effects of the till and the sound of loose change being transferred from one person’s hand to another, and the way a mask placed at the back of his head represents another person.
I love how Jacob Rajan shows you what beautiful effects can be achieved on a small stage with great acting, nifty ideas, and a little bit of imagination on the part of the audience.
In many ways, he brings you back to the essence of theatre.